Behind the label: a Catalan dynasty

Behind the label: a Catalan dynasty

Good things are happening in Catalan winemaking. Among our favourites in the area is the Alta Alella vineyard which lies just a few kilometres from the bustling city of Barcelona, between the towns of Alella and Tiana. It’s part of the Alella Denominación de Origen, which enjoys Mediterranean conditions although local microclimates mean growing conditions can vary between vineyards in the area.

In the late 19th century, the region’s vineyards were ravaged by the disastrous phylloxera plague. A replanting programme meant that 1 million vines were producing grapes by around 1920. The area’s winemaking received a boost in the 1990s when Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets and his wife Cristina Guillen took over the Can Genis estate, and the Alta Alella project was launched. The region is known for its base of Sauló – an acidic and sandy soil which is great for producing clean wines with a mineral edge – and the Pujol-Busquets family wanted to use these features to produce distinctive wines. The vineyards were planted with traditional grape varieties such as Pansa Blanca – the local version of the Catalan grape Xarel.lo – and the long-forgotten Mataró. The south-facing slopes of Alta Alella are planted with varieties that will be used to make sweet and red wines. These grapes need higher levels of ripeness. The slopes facing north are best for aromatic and floral wines, meaning the area is perfect for cava and whites.

The Pujol-Busquets family’s first wines were produced in 2001 and since then Alta Alella has gone on to become the top estate in the region. Of the wines produced by Alta Alella, we particularly like Mirgin, a light, well-balanced and fresh cava – its rosé partner is just as delicious. The crisp, fruity white Pansa Blanca is great for anybody who likes their wine to have citrus flavours. In this case, the acidity of lemon and lime is balanced by the sweetness of pineapple juice and guava. If red’s your thing, then the Parvus, made from Syrah has hints of cherry and herbs, and is great for drinking on its own or with food. 

One thing we particularly like is the fact that all the wine from the Pujol-Busquets vineyard is organic, meaning that no pesticides or herbicides are used. The vineyard’s cellar has been created in a way that allows each parcel of land to be fermented separately. This improves the overall quality of the wines as the grapes can be left on the vine until they are at their peak. With the popularity of its wines continuing to grow, it’s clear that the Alta Alella project has been a success so far. Josep Pujol-Busquets still heads up the family business. But he has passed on his talents to his daughter, Mireia (pictured), who is already carving out a reputation as a skilled winemaker in her own right.

See Alta Alella's wines